Illustration: Compendium of Materia Medica Trees Page

Trees Page From the Compendium of Materia Medica

Trees Page From the Compendium of Materia Medica

license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Wellcome Images

A page from the Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu) bears illustrations and descriptions of six types of trees, including dogwood and cape jasmine. They are split into a grid and accompanied by Chinese characters detailing their medicinal uses.


Artifact: 14th–17th century AD

Photo: 2014


This page is from a 1st edition copy of Bencao Gangmu (translated “categories and principles of roots and herbs”), a 16th century AD Chinese medical text referred to in English as the Compendium of Materia Medica. The text, split into 53 volumes, contains entries on 1,892 substances and their medicinal uses.

According to Wellcome Images, the plants depicted on this page, accompanied by their medicinal uses, are gouju (trifoliate orange), suanzao (red date), shanzhuyu (dogwood), zhizi (cape jasmine), ruihe (prinsepia) and hu tuizi (silverthorn shrub).

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Shizhen, L., & Luo, X. (2003). Compendium of materia medica: Bencao gangmu. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.